Along with the growth of the economy, the PRC leadership has embarked on a radical modernization of the armed forces. In the 80-90s, thanks to military-technical cooperation with Western countries, modern types of equipment and weapons appeared in the PLA. The creation and operation in China of combat helicopters, created on the basis of the French Dauphin, made it possible to accumulate the necessary experience and draw certain conclusions. Based on the realities of the level of development of modern air defense systems and having analyzed the use of helicopter technology in local conflicts, the command of the Chinese army aviation issued a technical task for a specialized attack helicopter capable of fighting tanks and provide fire support day and night, in difficult weather conditions. At some point, the Chinese hoped to gain access to the A.129 Mangusta anti-tank helicopter being developed in Italy, and with the Americans in 1988, an agreement was reached on the sale of the AH-1 Cobra and the license to manufacture the ATGM BGM-71 TOW. I must say that there were all reasons for this. In the late 70s, the countries of the West and China began to "make friends" against the Soviet Union.
The United States, France, Italy and the United Kingdom for about 10 years conducted quite active military-technical cooperation with China, under which, for example, a batch of SA anti-tank helicopters was sold. 342 Gazelle with ATGM NOT. However, in connection with the events on Tiananmen Square in 1989, sanctions were imposed against China, and it was a question of supplying modern Western weapons could no longer go. After normalization of relations with Russia, the Chinese were offered export Mi-35. However, by that time, Chinese experts had already become familiar with the widespread Mi-25 (export version of the Mi-24D combat helicopter) and found it too heavy and cumbersome. In addition, the sighting and search systems of Soviet combat helicopters are largely morally obsolete. And the Mi-24 itself, created as a “flying BMP”, was more often used as an attack aircraft, the main weapon of which was unguided rockets, and the PLA command wanted to be armed with a maneuverable and at the same time well-protected two-seater, comparable to the American “ Apache "and possessing high anti-tank potential.
At the aerospace showrooms, the Chinese, of course, could see the Mi-28 and Ka-50. It is not known whether our rulers were smart enough not to sell these helicopters to the PRC, or whether the Chinese military-political leadership decided to refrain from purchasing small-scale and still very raw machines, but modern Russian rumble-wing helicopters were not supplied to China. However, without Russian assistance in creating a Chinese military helicopter could not have done.
An example of the appearance of a Z-1 combat helicopter is a good demonstration of how modern aircraft was built in the PRC in the past. Officially, the designer Z-10, which received the designation in China, “Fire Lightning Strike”, was part of the “823 Program”, the 602 Research Institute, aircraft building corporations China Aviation Industry Corporation II and Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation. At the same time, the program to create a Chinese military helicopter was strictly classified, and strictly metered contradictory data were given in the media. This was largely due to the fact that the provision of military technology to the PRC was banned because of Western-imposed sanctions, and the creation and supply of a number of key components and assemblies by European and American companies was motivated by civilian projects. All equipment ordered in the West was supposedly intended for a middle-class civilian helicopter. The Chinese have been able to mislead "Western partners" for about 10 years. For example, Eurocopter and Agusta received more than $ 100 million for assistance in developing the transmission, control system and five-blade main rotor. Helicopter cockpit parts and avionics in many ways resemble Thomson CSF and Thales products. The Z-10 uses a data bus with the designation in the People's Republic of China GJV289A. It is the equivalent of the American MIL-STD-1553. There was information in the media that the sighting and observation complex created by the South African company Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE) could be used in a Chinese combat helicopter.
In the summer of 2012, the US government fined a subsidiary of Pratt & Whitney Canada, United Technologies, $ 75 million for supplying a batch of PT6C-76C engines. As a result, Western companies curtailed all cooperation with the Chinese corporation Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAIC), but this happened after the prototype Z-2003 first took off in April 10. However, as it turned out quite recently, back in 1995, a secret agreement was concluded with the Russian side, according to which the Kamov Design Bureau and CAIC created a joint design group that worked on a catalog of drawings for 2,5 years. According to a representative of the Russian company, the engineering and design group of the Kamov Design Bureau carried out design work in accordance with the parameters and layout scheme proposed by the Chinese side. However, the Chinese are currently denying all accusations, stating that the Z-10 is 100% designed by Chinese developers and is fully assembled from components manufactured in the PRC.
The Z-10 attack helicopter has a classic tandem crew layout. From the very beginning it was stipulated that the controls of the helicopter would be installed in both cabins. As in the European "Tigre", the workplace of the pilot is located in front. On the last modification of the helicopter delivered to the troops, in the cockpit of each crew member there are two large multifunctional liquid crystal displays.
To control the weapons used helmet-mounted aiming system, similar to the American Honeywell M142 Integrated Helmet. Flights in the dark are provided with equipment built on the basis of French and Israeli developments.
It is reported that before the Z-10 entered the combat units of the Chinese Army Aviation, the sighting and search equipment of the helicopter was changed three times. According to Western experts, the possibility of using a helicopter at night, searching for targets and using guided weapons at the moment approximately correspond to the American helicopter of the modification of AN-64А Apache. However, the security of the Chinese helicopter is far from the level of the American rival. At least when condemning the export deliveries of Z-10 to Pakistan, it was officially announced that the fuselage of the Chinese attack helicopter withstands shelling of 12,7-mm bullets. It is stated that the frontal bulletproof bulletproof cabins 38 mm also protect from bullets of large-caliber machine guns, however it is not specified from what distance. The damping system of the landing gear and pilots allows the crew to survive during an emergency landing with a vertical speed of 10 m / s, which is slightly less than the speed of a safe landing, which was achieved on American, European and Russian military helicopters.
At the same time, “Fire Lightning Strike” is equipped with all the necessary set of equipment for countering air defense weapons and sensors for detecting radar and laser irradiation. It can be said with confidence that the equipment installed on Chinese machines is comparable with analogues available on Apache, Mongoose and Tigers. If Chinese combat helicopters are still inferior to modern foreign attack rotary-winged machines in ballistic security and weight perfection, then there is no reason to doubt the level of Chinese electronics. The on-board self-defense system, known as YH-96, automatically analyzes possible threats and, if necessary, can independently generate interference and shoot heat and radar traps. Navigation is provided by Beidou satellite positioning signal receivers.
According to the information sounded in the Chinese media, at the moment there is a fine-tuning and adaptation of the millimeter-wave radar station. Allegedly, this station is not inferior to the American super-AN / APG-78 Longbow. The Chinese radar, known as the YH MMZ FCR, weighs about 70 kg, which is significantly less than the mass of the Arbalet radar available on the Mi-28Н. It is alleged that the YH station of the MMR FCR is fully compatible with the fire control system, and the supply of helicopters with a nadulotchny radar will begin to the troops in the near future. It is stated that the detection range of the Chinese helicopter radar exceeds 30 km. But it is not clear whether we are talking about air or ground targets. The equipment of the front-line helicopters includes a suspended reconnaissance container KZ900 SIGINT with radar reconnaissance equipment. Although helicopters with such containers were repeatedly demonstrated to the general public, the composition of the equipment and the spectrum of operating frequencies were not disclosed.
In 2006, the first blurred photos of the Chinese attack helicopter appeared. Western observers initially considered him a copy of the Italian A.129 Mangusta, but later it turned out that it was a larger and heavier machine. The termination of deliveries of American engines somewhat slowed down the process of refining and adopting the Z-10. As a result, serial helicopters are equipped with two Chinese Zhuzhou WZ-9 turboshaft engines with a take-off power of 1285 l. with. Western sources say that Russian and Ukrainian specialists participated in the development of the engine control system.
The flight data of the Z-10 combat helicopter is not known for certain. Apparently, the maximum take-off weight is within 6700-7000 kg. Based on the ratio of the power of the power plant and the mass, it can be assumed that the maximum speed of the helicopter is about 300 km / h and the rate of climb of 10 is m / s. According to information published in the Chinese media: the flight distance exceeds 800 km, and on the external suspension nodes you can place a combat load of 1500 kg.
A Chinese combat helicopter can carry up to 16 ATGM HJ-8 and HJ-9. However, the main weapons are guided missiles HJ-10. In the western directories they write that this rocket is the Chinese equivalent of the AGM-114 Hellfire ATGM.
However, unlike the Hellfire, the Chinese rocket has a narrowed head, which is supposedly done to reduce drag. It is reported that HJ-10 can have a television, thermal and laser guidance system. In total, the external nodes are suspended up to 8 ATGM HJ-10.
Since the Z-10 helicopter is to receive a millimeter-range radar in the future, it is likely that work is underway to build an anti-tank missile with a radar seeker. According to Jane's Defense Weekly, HJ-10 laser-guided missiles were shipped to Saudi Arabia and Sudan. The launch range of the export version, weighing about 47-50 kg, is capable of reaching 10 km. Flight speed - 340 m / s. Penetration - 1000 mm. The rocket can also have a thermobaric and armor-piercing high-explosive penetrating warhead.
In addition to the ATGM, the helicopter can carry on the four nodes of the external suspension blocks NAR caliber 57-90-mm. Containers with 7,62-mm, 12,7 or 14,5-mm multi-barrel machine guns or 35-40-mm automatic grenade launchers. To combat the air enemy are intended UR TY-90 with a launch range of up to 8 km or PL-7 and PL-9 with a range up to 15 km. A total of 16 TY-90 or 4 PL-7 / PL-9 missiles can be mounted on a combat helicopter.
The Z-10 helicopter is equipped with a mobile artillery mount with a 23-mm cannon (23-X115-mm ammunition). According to Chinese data, the horizontal angle is 130 °. However, the Chinese military was not satisfied with the power of the 23-mm projectile and tested the turret with a Russian 30-mm 2A72 cannon on a combat helicopter. But the optoelectronic systems installed in the nose of the fuselage turned out to be too “gentle,” and because of the strong recoil, there were frequent failures when firing from the powerful 30-mm gun. In this regard, it was decided to install on the Z-10 25-mm gun (25 × 137-mm ammunition), created on the basis of the American M242 Bushmaster. This cannon with chain drive and double ammunition is considered quite reliable. Armor-piercing tracer M791 mass 185 g with a core of tungsten alloy at a distance 1000 m is able to penetrate the normal 40 mm armor. The analogue of the American 25-mm guns and ammunition are mass-produced in the PRC. 25-mm gun, for example, is armed with a tracked BMP Type 89 (YW-307).
According to the World Air Forces 2016, in the PLA Army Aviation in the second half of the 2016, there were X-NUMX Z-96 combat helicopters. In addition, it was announced that Z-10, along with transport Z-10 (SA 8 Super Frelon), can be part of air groups based on the Type 321 universal landing craft and used for fire support of the landing. Earlier, a special naval modification of a combat helicopter was tested on the first Chinese aircraft carrier, Liaoning.
In the 2017 year, it was reported that the Z-10 helicopter in massive quantities enters the army and is already equipped with the third helicopter brigade of army aviation. Starting in 2010, the Z-10 troop tests were conducted in the 5 helicopter brigade based in Nanjing.
Google Earth Satellite Image: Z-10 Helicopters at Baoding Air Base
The second military unit that received Z-2012 helicopters in 10 was the 8-I helicopter brigade of the 38-th Army of the Beijing Military District, stationed at Baoding Air Base, Hebei Province. From 2014, the helicopter brigade of the 7 Army of the Jinan Military District in Liaochen, Shandong Province, is retrained from attack helicopters.
Google Earth Satellite Image: Z-10 Helicopters at Liaochen Air Base
In addition to deliveries to the PLA, CAIC aircraft corporation offers Z-10 for export, the export cost of the helicopter, depending on the composition of the avionics and weapons, is $ 25-27 million. Which roughly corresponds to the export version of the Mi-28HE and is more than two times cheaper than AN-64D . It is known that several Chinese combat helicopters for comparative tests with the Russian Mi-35M and the "Turkish" T-129 ATAK purchased Pakistan.
It is very difficult to evaluate a new Chinese combat helicopter, since it has only just begun to enter the troops, it has not been studied enough by the flight and technical staff and has many “childhood ills”. Mastering new equipment due to the high complexity and lack of experience in the PRC of operating helicopter gunships equipped with modern avionics can be delayed. The commissioning of new helicopter technology is often accompanied by a high accident rate. So it was in the USA and in our country, Europeans with their Mongoose and Tigris managed to avoid noticeable losses due to accidents and catastrophes, but this is due to the very low rate of helicopters entering the combat squadron and a long period of refinement and development.
Periodically, there is information about flight incidents involving Z-10. So, 4 March 2017, in the central province of Shaanxi, crashed a Chinese attack helicopter, while the crew was injured. Since 2010, it has been known about five accidents and disasters that have happened to Z-10.
Currently, a new modification of the Chinese combat helicopter with an engine is being created that is capable of providing power up to 1800 hp during takeoff. With the previous geometrical dimensions, the maximum take-off weight of the modified Z-10 can reach 10 000 kg. That is, on this indicator closest to the "Apache". Apparently, the reserve capacity will be used to increase security, combat load and volume of fuel tanks.
As was already mentioned in the previous part of the review, the Zhengxw transport and combat Z-2W, equipped with a sighting and search system and HJ-9E anti-tank guided missile and night vision Z-8WA with a night vision system, a laser range finder, was created in the People's Republic of China on the basis of a French helicopter target designator and laser guided HJ-9 ATGM. Simultaneously with the creation of a “big” attack helicopter Z-9 in China, they decided to play it safe, and despite a dispute with EADS regarding the expiration of the license for production in the People's Republic of China, SA 10 Dauphin 365 started to build an reconnaissance and attack helicopter based on it.
Compared to the weakly protected Z-9W, the new double-purpose specialized vehicle is better suited for conducting aerial reconnaissance and striking ground targets. At the same time, the risk of failure, compared with the Z-10 created from scratch, was much less. The rejection of the passenger cabin while maintaining the same flight data and maximum take-off weight made it possible to improve the security and the number of weapons on board. With the previous power plant, the new helicopter became shorter by about 1,5 m. Unlike the Z-9, the reconnaissance-attack helicopter has a narrower fuselage and a tandem cockpit.
Helicopter Z-19, known as the "Black Twister", was created by Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation (HAMC). His first flight took place in May 2010. Since the well-developed components and assemblies of the Z-19 helicopter and the avionics, already tested on the first Z-9 prototypes, were used in the Z-10 to a large extent, the tests went very quickly. Despite the fact that the Z-19 head prototype was broken in September 2010, tests of the pre-production batch started in the first half of 2011. A few months later, the first Z-19 entered the 5 Squadron of the 8-th helicopter brigade of the 38-th Army of the Beijing Military District. At about the same time, the personnel of this unit stationed in the vicinity of the city of Baoding, in parallel, began to develop combat helicopters Z-10.
Google Earth Satellite Image: Z-10 and Z-19 Helicopters at Baoding Air Base
Thanks to the fenestron-type tail rotor and a number of noise reduction measures, the acoustic visibility of the Z-19 is much lower than that of many other combat helicopters. In addition, the thermal and radar visibility is reduced compared to the Z-9.
On the “chin”, where other attack helicopters usually have movable machine-gun cannon turrets, a moving ball with optoelectronic aiming-search and night-vision equipment, as well as a laser range-finder, is mounted. To parry all sorts of threats, the attack and reconnaissance helicopter is equipped with sensors and defensive systems similar to those used on the Z-10.
On the Z-19 helicopter it is possible to use a wide range of weapons, including laser-guided anti-tank guided missiles, NAR units and suspended machine-gun cannons. The weight of the combat load on the external nodes has not been officially announced, but according to expert estimates it can reach 700-800 kg.
Apparently, the security of the Z-19 is not higher than that of the larger and heavier Z-10. It can be assumed that the cabin and the most important parts of the helicopter can withstand rifle caliber bullets.
The flight data of the Z-19 is roughly at the level of the armed version of the Z-9. A helicopter with a maximum take-off weight of 4500 kg, with a full refueling of fuel tanks, is able to be in the air for 4 hours. During this time, he can fly about 800 km. Maximum flight speed - 280 km / h. Cruising - 240 km / h. The power plant consists of two turboshaft engines WZ-8C hp power 940.
At the Heli-Expo exhibition, a Z-19E helicopter was shown with HJ-10 ATGM mock-ups, a NAR unit and a suspended machine-gun container. This modification is intended for export deliveries. According to data sounded in the Chinese media, Sudan ordered several cars. A light combat helicopter Z-19E at a cost of about $ 15 million may be of interest to third world countries that are financially constrained or cannot buy modern combat helicopters in the West due to sanctions restrictions.
At present, approximately 90 light Z-19 helicopter reconnaissance and assault helicopters have been delivered to the Chinese armed forces. Often they enter the mixed brigade helicopter brigades where Z-10 are also operated.
Recently, there were pictures of Z-19 with a millimeter-range nadpeltochny BRLS. The same radar station is designed for installation on combat helicopters Z-10. With a great deal of confidence, we can assume that the equipment of the Z-19 helicopters will include various suspension containers with reconnaissance equipment, as well as possibly a light SW-6 UAV.
An interesting feature of this drone is the use of a DC electric motor as a power plant, connected to a two-bladed propeller and powered from a rechargeable battery. The device is disposable, its evacuation and reuse is not provided. According to data released during the Airshow China 2016 aerospace show, the maximum take-off weight of SW6 is 20 kg. Payload mass to 5 kg. Maximum speed - up to 100 km / h. Battery capacity allows you to stay in the air for about 1 hours.
A small-sized unmanned vehicle in the transport position with a folded wing occupies the smallest possible volume and can be transported on the external suspension of a helicopter. After a dump, the wings of the drone unfold, and he proceeds to the solution of the task. The SW6 modification demonstrated in the People's Republic of China is equipped with optical-electronic equipment intended for conducting visual reconnaissance. In addition, the UAV in the case of the use of the noise generator can serve as a false target in the conditions of a strong air defense, and when installing a warhead it can act as a locking high-precision ammunition.
At the Airshow China 2016 exhibition, the SW-6 UAV "electric" UAV was demonstrated together with the Changhe Z-11WB light reconnaissance helicopter. In China, this model of the helicopter was given the designation "Buzzard".
Representatives of the aircraft manufacturing corporation Changhe Aircraft Industries argue that this helicopter was created by Chinese experts on its own. However, in the second half of the 80-x documentation was sent to the PRC for the licensed production of the helicopter Eurocopter AS.350 Ecureuil (rus. Belka). The production of "Squirrel" began in 1977 year and continues to this day. This very successful light helicopter was popular with consumers. Depending on the configuration, its cost in 90-s was $ 2,5-3 million. In total, around 3500 “Ekyreev” was built, in a number of third-world countries modifications are used, armed with an ATGM TOW or NOTES, NAR and machine-gun cannons.
The first flight of the Chinese Ecurea took place in the 1998 year, and two years later mass production began. Initially, when assembling light helicopters Z-11, French engines Turbomeca Arriel 2B hp were installed. But later they were replaced by the Chinese counterpart WZ-847D.
At first, the unarmed Z-11 helicopter was used as a “flying ambulance”, for the delivery of urgent correspondence and VIPs. Since the Chinese army was in dire need of reconnaissance helicopters, monitoring and adjusting artillery fire, they mounted artillery observers and radio stations to communicate with ground units on several vehicles.
In 2005, an armed modification of the Z-11W appeared, with an aiming-viewing system over the cabin and four HJ-8 ATGMs on external pylons. Instead of guided missiles, six-barrel 7,62-mm machine guns of CS / LM12, 40-mm LG3 automatic grenade launchers or blocks with 57-mm NAR could be suspended. The total weight of the combat load can reach 500 kg. It is believed that the armed Z-11W were mainly supplied to the aviation support units of special operations forces. The helicopter with a maximum take-off weight of 2200 kg holds two pilots and three paratroopers. In the fire support version, an additional fuel tank with a capacity of 225 l can be installed in the passenger compartment. The main tank holds 540 liters of kerosene. Without the use of an additional fuel tank, the range is 580 km. Maximum flight speed - 278 km / h. Cruising - 220 km \ h. In general, the flight data of the Chinese Z-11W is very close to the characteristics of the American reconnaissance-attack helicopter OH-58 Kiowa of later modifications.
A further development of the Z-11W was the Z-11WB, equipped with a movable thermal imaging camera and a laser rangefinder-aiming indicator. It is stated that this vehicle is capable of carrying a wide range of weapons: laser, heat and television guided missiles, FT-9 and YZ-212D miniature guided bombs, TY-90 air-to-air missiles and a variety of machine-gun cannons. The machine is designed to counter terrorism, drug trafficking and special operations. The export value of a light attack helicopter capable of conducting combat operations at night, equipped with modern optoelectronic equipment and modern weapon systems, does not exceed $ 9 million, which makes it attractive in the external arms market. It should be recognized that in the creation of light attack helicopters for reconnaissance, target designation and support for special forces, Chinese experts have advanced much further than Russian designers. Obviously, the key to success in this case is the ability to quickly develop and create advanced day-to-day observation and aiming systems coupled with precision weapons.
To be continued ...